Waste group formed

By Lisa Daigle

Steadily increasing solid waste in DeKalb County and in Illinois has resulted in the creation of a solid waste management committee to discuss problems and options.

The City of DeKalb established a committee about eight months ago to look for alternative waste programs like recycling, but had to “reconstitute” the committee after state legislation was passed requiring it to be more representative of the community.

Ron Matekaitis, city attorney and chairman of the committee, said while the state deadline for plan completion is 1995, he said he expects the committee to be finished by April 1991.

The committee is in its infancy and has yet to establish guidelines of what are reasonable options for the county, Matekaitis said. Recycling will be a “featured component” in the waste plan, he said.

“The emphasis from the state is to reduce the waste at its source,” Matekaitis said.

Matekaitis said the committee must be “creative and aggressive” in its solutions to reduce waste build-up in the county.

Matekaitis also said the committee needs to consider what markets there are for recycled products. He said a “backlog” of newspaper and a lack of markets for recycled plastics could be a problem the committee will need to address.

The state of Illinois is required to purchase recycled products as long as the cost of the products is no more than 10 percent over the cost for unrecycled products, Matekaitis said.

Any mandatory recycling program in DeKalb is “premature,” Matekaitis said. He estimated 70 percent of the city voluntarily recycles some of their garbage currently.

Matekaitis said however, a voluntary recycling program and a garbage user fee could be used together to reduce the production of waste in DeKalb.

A proposed garbage user fee might charge households by the amount of cans of garbage they produce as opposed to charging each household a flat fee.

While landfills and incinerators will be considered as possible options, they are a “last resort,” Matekaitis said. If the committee decides these options are necessary, recommendations will be made to the county board which will hold public hearings and make a final decision.

Matekaitis said a bottle deposit law might be considered. This suggested law, which some neighboring states have, would give glass bottles a cash value when they are taken to a recycling center.

While results from the committee will affect DeKalb, they probably will not affect NIU.

“I seriously doubt that end results will be enforceable upon the university,” Matekaitis said. He said the city will encourage “participation and cooperation” from the university.

Suggestions on recycling for NIU are to print The Northern Star on recycled paper and to recycle old issues, to encourage the purchasing of recycled products, to recycle cardboard boxes, and to recycle computer printout paper.

The 17-member committee, with representatives from recycling programs, waste hauling businesses, landfill operations, elected county officials, industry representatives, and NIU representatives, will serve until a plan is created and put into action.